Allentown, NJ
May 9, 2009

As expected, the footing played a huge role on cross country today, causing horses to be very slow and very tired at the finish.  All morning the most common phrase from the announcer was “and unfortunately so-and-so has been popped out of the tack”.  For some reason, possibly because the horses were really sticking in the mud, people kept getting jarred right off their horses.  There were very few clear rounds and almost nobody made time.  Even the simpler fences and combinations caused a lot of trouble. 

Thanks to a new plan in warm up and the help of my mother, we were able to keep Finian really well settled in the warm-up and into the start box.  Because of that, he set off very relaxed and focused right to the first fence.  He clipped around really well where we could gallop, and was well under control where I had to pull him up a bit because of the bad footing.  Indeed I had to ride the fences very positively, and lots of places did require the respect earlier riders had been lacking, but there was never a hesitation from Finn.  He was pretty near flawless all the way around, but the most exciting part for me was that he really dug in and found a second wind and then a third.  I was able to open him up a bit later in the course, and he absolutely flew up the final hill at the end, jumping the last two fences with plenty of run left in him.  He pulled up beautifully at the finish and recovered really well in the vet box.  It didn’t take long for him to get a little sparkle in his eye and start being playful with the vets that were checking up on him…just ask the one that got a big sloppy kiss on the face!

Back in the barn everything looks good for now.  We’ll hope nothing turns up tomorrow but, knock on wood, he seems to be feeling great.  With 17.6 time penalties, we were one of the fastest times of the day, and moved up a place to 3rd.  Now if I can just keep my head on straight tomorrow for showjumping, we can be pretty pleased about our whole weekend. 

Hoping the morning brings good footing and fresh horses.